The downtime does, however, give us an opportunity for a moment of reflection. We can hover over the South Florida sports landscape like a drone and take stock of how things are going. For starters, we can stack up our favorite teams and see which ones we're most excited about going forward.
5. Miami Marlins
This team is just so bad right now. So very bad. Few locals care about the Marlins anymore, and those who do are incredibly disgusted by them on a nightly basis. Jeffrey Loria is obviously stalling the sale of the team until next year, when he will owe exactly zero percent of the profits to the City of Miami, a plan he had in place years ago. In the meantime, the Marlins have the third-worst record in baseball, their roster is a mess, the stadium is nearly empty, and their minor-league system is one of the worst in baseball. Other than that, the Marlins are totally enjoyable and a pleasure to be around!
By default, and thanks to the Marlins' decrepitude, the Panthers miss the cellar here. The foundation the team has built upon in recent years is admirable, even if the Cats stumbled last year and missed the playoffs. But the fact that the team plays on ice way up in Sunrise is just so much to overcome in an area that loves a winner — especially a winner with whom they're already familiar. The Panthers have never consistently won, and very few South Floridians have deep ties to hockey. Until the team goes on a real run, there isn't much the Cats can do about cracking the Top 3 of local franchises. But at least they have the Marlins to keep them out of last place, though! The Marlins are like the Buffalo Bills of this list.
The Dolphins are on the up-and-up — that much is clear. But their first playoff appearance in eight years doesn't change the fact that the franchise has spent decades torturing its fans. Those sort of scars don't heal overnight, so forgive Fins fans if they still have some trust issues. But the Dolphins will always have a built-in advantage simply because football is still America's favorite pastime. A Super Bowl run would put them right back into the center of hearts and at the forefront of the South Florida sports scene. Until then, fans can be cautiously optimistic about this long-fraught relationship.
2. Miami Hurricanes
It will take a lot more than a decade-plus of mediocre-to-shitty football to tear down the passionate relationship the Hurricanes have with the city of Miami. And thanks to Mark Richt's arrival last year, Canes fans are again encouraged by a coach promising big things. This time is different! Maybe. This much is certain: Kids are still running around South Florida throwing up "the U" based on stuff they saw on an ESPN 30 for 30 and heard from their dads. That kind of magic will last a while, but it won't last forever if the Canes can't start threatening national titles again soon.
1. Miami Heat
The undisputed best lover in South Florida sports is your Miami Heat. Gosh darnit, they give good lovin'. Even when they suck like they did for half the 2017 season, they turn a nonplayoff campaign into a season people will talk about for decades. That doesn't even make any sense, but it's true. The Heat thrills its fans even in the worst of times, so you know the love is real. There is little this franchise could do to erode the foundation it has laid in South Florida. They've set themselves up for another decade or more of excellence, with Erik Spoelstra set to take over the team's reigns once Pat Riley decides to